Concarneau-Le Guilvinec Women

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The Cornouaille region in Brittany has been selected for this research. According to the 2013 report of the Quimper Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), the region has a total of 400 fishing vessels, 200 registered buyers and creates around 5700 jobs in fishing, fish trading, transportation, boat building and repair and naval services. As such the fishing industry occupies a very important place in the Cornouaille region. The 7 regional ports provide 50% of the region’s fresh fish catches and 24% of the total fish caught in France.

The region has historical links with the region of Cornwall, U.K as the original settlers are said to be Celts from Great Britain and some cultural links, such as musical instruments and words, can be found.

For more information on the CCI report please visit following website.

Concarneau-Le Guilvinec

Concarneau is a French town located in Finistère, in the region of Brittany. It has a population of around 21,000 inhabitants. The town was originally a fishing town but its main economic activity has now transformed into tourism. It is still the fourth most important fishing port and is well recognized for its tuna landings. It has generated a number of processing companies with a long history and heritage in the region. In 1851 business men, who were canning sardines, started the fish processing plants and by 1930 there were around 32 processing companies in Concarneau.

The maritime identity of Concarneau is evident in the port. The beginning of the 20th century marked the development of the fishing port, and by the 60s the port was also a leisure port with the creation of the fishing museum in 1961. Currently the port is the place where the fish auction takes place and there is also shipbuilding and a shipyard. The town is well known by its festival “Filet Bleus” where parades, traditional music and theatrical themes tell the adventures of seafaring men. The town has given paramount importance to its maritime cultural heritage and in 2006 created a cultural institution responsible for the promotion of the maritime history of the town. This institution has recognized the importance of women to the fishing life of the town and has collected recorded memories in form of oral history of the fishermen and their families.

Le Guilvinec is located in Brittany, France. The town, which originated from fishermen’s hamlets, has approximately 4.000 inhabitants. It is the first port in France for artisanal fishing.

The fishery history dates back to 1880 when the sardine canneries business started in the town allowing fishermen to sell these goods on a larger scale than before. For this reason fishermen and their families arrived in the region especially during the sardine and mackerel fishing season. Nowadays, “les Guilvinistes”, as they are called in the area, are recognised for their courage and their intrepid nature.

Fishing is the main activity of the town which has four ports, approximately 3340 boats, including 230 trawlers, around 1300 marines. Inland, fishing related activities take place such as fish trade, shipyards and canning among others.

In Guilvinec, it is common to find post Second World War pictures of canning and processing plants depicting women, with their traditional lace on their heads (la dentelle Bigoudène); in 1945 they were the major work force in canning plants. Nowadays the number of processing companies have considerably reduced: only 6 canning plants remain.

In 1994, in the town of Concarneau and Le Guilvinec women created associations in favour of women rights in fisheries and after a long fight have achieved legal recognition as “spouse collaborators” of fishermen in France.


Trebern, Agathe (2001), Memoire en Images, Le Guilvinec et son Canton. Edition Alan Sutton.
Bataillard, Michel, (2011), Le Guivinec Treffiagat—Lechiagat. Editions Empreintes, France.